Today the UFC will be having its last card of the year with Fight Night: Thompson vs. Neal. The UFC will be closing out this bizarre year with an exciting bout in the welterweight division as fifth ranked 170-pounder Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson takes on rising star and 11th ranked contender Geoff Neal. In the co-main event, we’ll see former featherweight champion and seventh ranked bantamweight Jose Aldo, take on Marlon “Chito” Vera at 135-pounds.
Thompson vs. Neal is a strong matchup and challenge for both fighters. Geoff Neal has been on a tear ever since entering the UFC. The Texas born fighter is currently on a six-fight win streak, five of those victories being stoppages. If Geoff Neal is looking to secure that seventh victory, he’ll have to use his speed and power to get close and catch “Wonderboy” early.
“I don’t come to just win by decision (or) point fight. I’m aggressive, I have power, and I come to finish,” said Neal.
Neal has delivered highlight reel knockouts ever since joining the UFC. He broke into the UFC by earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series. Since then, he’s been on an absolute war path and has only let one fight go to the judges. Neal’s power and constant pressure make it almost inevitable for the team Fortis MMA fighter to land a heavy blow and hurt his opponent at any point during the fight. It’ll be interesting to see how Neal tries to break through the karate defense of Thompson.
“Going into this fight, I feel I have to win this dominantly. “Wonderboy” has a name and he’s ranked five, I’m ranked 11. He’s fought for the belt twice. It’s a big step up in competition but I’m always game for it. After I take him out, people are going to be like, “this guy is for real.”
Neal’s climb up the 170-pound division will see a true test in fifth ranked welterweight Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. At this point in his career, Thompson can be considered a veteran of the sport as he will be making his 16th UFC appearance on December 19th.
“Wonderboy” is a fan favorite and has been amongst the elite in the welterweight division for years now. Thompson fought for the 170-pound title twice in the past against the then welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. The karate specialist truly feels like he still has a lot to fight for and is adamant on earning another title shot.
Sitting at number five in the welterweight rankings, a title fight isn’t completely out of the future for “Wonderboy”. In order for Thompson to secure the victory and work his way back to the title picture, he will have to force Neal into his own game and make it a competitive fight. Thompson will have to utilize his karate defense and kicks to keep Neal back and prevent him from getting too close.
“This is a huge opportunity for me. To show the UFC that I’m not a gatekeeper and that I can still make that title run.”
“I think I can go out there and break Geoff. Not just physically but mentally. With my style, it’s very difficult to prepare for. And most guys, when they step in the octagon, they don’t know what to do. They think they do. But when they go out there and they feel the flow, they feel the movement, the power of my strikes and kicks, you can slowly see that spirit break,” said Thompson.
In the co-main event of the night we head down to the bantamweight division for a bout between seventh ranked fighter Jose Aldo, and 15th ranked Marlon “Chito” Vera. Both fighters find themselves on the opposite end of situations, however. “Chito” Vera looks to continue his climb up the bantamweight rankings by finishing a former champion and making a real statement. While the original king of the featherweights finds himself in a tough situation going into his 17th UFC appearance.
Jose Aldo Junior will be entering his fight against Marlon Vera on three straight loses. Surely, the former featherweight champion was hoping to find better success in the 135-pound division. Despite the results, Jose Aldo is still determined at earning another shot at the 135-pound title. The Brazilian legend needs to make an impression on Saturday night in order to make a good case for a rematch in the future.
The man standing across the octagon from Aldo, Marlon “Chito” Vera, will be walking into Saturday driven and focused. Confidence has never been an issue for the Spanish fighter. Especially after the recent TKO victory over Sean O’Malley, “Chito” plans on putting away the Brazilian legend to further his climb up the 135-pound division.
Jose Aldo will be a great test for Marlon Vera. Despite a 1-2 start in the UFC, Vera continued to evolve as a fighter.Now, he’ll find himself standing across the octagon from a former champion. If Vera can get past the elite mixed martial artist that Jose Aldo still is, the bantamweight division will have a new name to look out for.
“Chito” Vera told MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck, “This is a chance for him (Aldo) to prove that he can still beat the up-and-comer fighters. This is a chance for me to send him home and say, “Hey, I’m going to be a world champion right now.” We both have a big opportunity and I’m not going to let him off the hook.”
The rest of Saturday’s card is also filled with other exciting matchups. In the welterweight division we’ll see Michel Pereira Lima take on Khaos Williams. The reason why this fight is exciting is because of intensity and high energy both men bring to their fights.
Michel Pereira is always entertaining. Pereira is constantly pressing forward and forcing a fight. Khaos Williams only two fights in the UFC have ended in the first round, bothwithin 30 seconds. He’s finished both his opponents in quick and devastating fashion. Williams octagon time in the UFC has yet to even exceed a full minute.
UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Neal will be taking place on December 19th, live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas and will be available on ESPN+. Main card begins at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT. Prelims will be on both ESPN and ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT.